Cliffs carved by time
Benagil is a beach in the municipality of Lagoa which holds registers of fishing activity at least since the 19th century. According to some historians, its name may derive from the Arabic word Ben together with the Christian name Gil, meaning “son of Gil”.
Little is known about the history and the evolution of its fisheries; yet, the fact remains that this activity still thrives here and it serves as a magnet for tourism which discovered in Benagil one of the Algarve’s gems. Actually, Algar de Benagil, one the most famous caves in the world, is very close to this beach. From the strand, it is possible to contemplate all the charm of the limestone cliffs, with its tracery of caves, arches and stacks, with appealing names: Gruta do Coração (Cave of the Heart), Gruta dos Dois Olhos (Cave of the Two Eyes), or Gruta do Paraíso (Cave of Heaven), the arches at Praia da Marinha or the underwater stack.
In 2000, there were about 13 registered boats and 21 seafarers. Today, there are 14 active boats; however, only 7 are fishing boats while the remaining are tourism boats. The same applies to seafarers, which are more than two dozen, but split between the two activities.
Concerning fisheries, long lines are the most used fishing gears. Mainly baited with squid, it catches species of high commercial value such as breams, including pink dentex (locally called penachos), gilt-head bream, croaker, sea bass (in decline, nowadays) and sea breams.
The Benagil fishermen have join efforts with maritime tourism activities (APOTUGIL) and now they count on with cold storage facilities at the beach, provided by the municipality of Lagoa. Yet, they have to sell their fish in the wholesale market in Portimão, about 16 km away. The possibility of direct sales, particularly during weekends, and the use of the old fish market of Armação de Pera (at least in summer) are some of the aspirations of this fishing community .
Typical dishes of this fishing community are fish stews (caldeirada) and the respetive bread porridge prepared with the broth, conger eel rice, fried moray eel (scarce, nowadays) and fried conger eel liver with eggs.
In August, they organise religious feasts such as Nossa Senhora da Rocha and Senhora dos Navegantes.
Algar de Benagil (sinkhole), Caves, Arches and Stacks, Praia de Benagil, Praia do Carvalho, Praia da Corredoura, Praia da Marinha, Praia de Vale Centeanes, water sports, snorkeling at “Praia da Marinha”, the pedestrian nature trail Sete Vales Suspensos or Seven Hanging Valleys (AT, Algarve Tourism).